You really couldn’t make this stuff up. Bush now says he declassified the CIA material on Saddam’s alleged nuclear ambitions in Niger in an effort to “give the public a better sense of what he was saying in his speeches,” but he didn’t tell Scooter to leak it. He did it because, “He wanted people to see the truth.”
Okay, let’s stop there for a moment. Bush clearly has the legal authority to declassify documents. (We’ll ignore for now that his own press secretary said he declassified it 10 days after Scooter leaked it.) But even George Tenet, Director of the CIA, who was responsible for the document in question, was unaware that any part of it had been declassified by the President. There was no press release of the newly declassified information. In retrospect, the declassification of the document was a better kept secret than its contents. So how exactly does this show the public the truth? How did Bush envision that this “truth” would get out to anyone?
Further, the information Scooter leaked was a gross exaggeration of the actual document. Scooter told the NY Times’ Judith Miller, “Iraq was vigorously trying to procure uranium.” But the CIA officials who wrote the document in question say that this was never a judgment asserted in the document. And if Scooter thought he was merely passing along information which had been properly declassified, why did he insist that Miller say the information had come from a “former Hill staffer” rather than owning up to it. After all, if the purpose of the declassification was to get the truth to the public, shouldn’t it be done via a credible rather than an anonymous source?
You don’t need a lot of imagination to connect these dots. Bush has admitted declassifying the information. But the fact that the only use of the information was a covert “leak” to an administration reporter for the purpose of discrediting a political adversary makes Bush complicit in Plame-gate. And Cheney’s clearly wrapped up in this somewhere, but you can bet we won’t hear any statements from him. But that’s the whole cast of characters. Bush – Cheney – Libby. No one else knew the info had been declassified. Did Bush release it, Cheney spin it, and Scooter deliver it? Probably. And we may never know all the detail. However, the real crime will be if Scooter goes down alone for this.
As a people, can we continue to sit here and be treated like this by our own elected government? How stupid are we? Wait… don’t answer that.